Department

Ranticles: “Way to Make an Impression”

By Canticle

RanticlesBrief background. Winnipeg proper does not see a lot of tourists wandering the streets. When people come to Manitoba, it's generally for hunting and fishing (in which case they are flown to lodges), the lakes (in which case they drive out there), or the festivals in the city (in which case they are, well, at the festivals).

So, it's not really like you see people gawking at Winnipeg's sites, and you seldom have encounters with tourists beyond passing them in the street in which case you can't tell they are tourists. One big recent exception was a British family that came over and was feted, and they had a wonderful time and wrote a nice thank you to the city.

My experiences, however, of the last two weeks have sucked. I'm jinxed, because I never, ever have run-ins with tourists, let alone obnoxious ones, and now two of them in two weeks; and both from the same region of the world.

Now before I get into this, I am not tarring all people from Virginia and all points south with the same brush, because I've had wonderful work experiences with people from Virginia, and I have friends who live in the area, so I KNOW these people aren't representative of Southern folks. However, these people were far from what you'd call genteel southerners.

When I took Aubrey to the zoo last week there was a guy packing his screaming kids into an SUV with Virginia plates. Oh they were howling, and one was saying something about wanting to see the animals. The father, baseball cap and beefy arms, was hollering at them," I ain't givin' my money to no raghead!" It was surreal.

Turns out the Muslim woman who works concession and the gates was taking the admissions that day. I hope she didn't hear the guy, and doubt she did since he was way out in the parking lot, but what a way to spoil a child’s day, packing them off and not letting them in the zoo because someone whose culture you dislike happens to be the one at the gate (the grand irony is that isn't the only entrance to the zoo, but I wanted Aubrey to enjoy his day and the guy was big and angry, so I didn't feel like helping him out).

Tourist number two, and what prompted this post, was on my way to Future Shop with Aubrey on the bus. The bus was full, and the two seats reserved for strollers and wheelchairs were occupied. One, justifiably, by a wheelchair. The other by a loud woman with a southern accent talking to her friend (key to tourist identification, the fact she was asking her friend what kind of nightlife this city had). She didn't budge, despite the fact the bus is full and I've got people jammed behind me waiting to move to the back. I waited patiently, but she simply looked right at me, past me, and ignored the fact people were crammed like sardines behind me.

The bus driver stopped at the next stop even though no one was waiting, and asked her to move so I could put the stroller in the place reserved for it (and it's clearly marked with a huge pink sign with a stroller, right beneath the one for wheelchairs). As she moved, glaring at me, I thanked her for being so considerate. She didn't stop glaring at me the entire trip, as if her inconsiderate behaviour were my fault.

Canticle on August 17, 2005.